|Dayton, Ohio: November 2009. Schizophrenics with numerous hospital stays, severe and disabling symptoms, and
even suicide attempts, often feel as if there is no hope for recovery. Eastway Behavioral Healthcare
provides these clients with an intensive “last resort” medication regimen that provides relief – the
program has recently passed the goal of supporting fifty clients simultaneously.
Eastway’s intensive medication treatment program is offered to clients who have a long history of
numerous hospital stays and demonstrated resistance to other medications. A requirement of
participation in the program is that clients meet with the medical staff regularly to determine that the
medication is not causing a threat to their health. In early stages of recovery, clients are monitored
daily for changes in weight, white blood cell counts, and vital signs. As the patients recover, the
clinic visits change to weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. All 54 clients come to the clinic during one
week of the month for extensive monitoring and a visit with the doctor.
The Eastway program is run by Director of Nursing Stephanie Weigel; Weigel transferred to
Eastway nine years ago after eight years at Day-Mont where she ran a similar program. Weigel
acknowledges that the program is controversial due to the need for close monitoring and the possible
side effects, but she is happy to put in the necessary work to make sure the clients are recovering in a
safe environment. Weigel says, “It’s not right for everyone, but this I’ve see so many people recover
dramatically once they start with us. I’m really proud of the growth in the program.”
Eastway uses the generic forms of Clozaril for the program. The cost to the patients varies based on the needed dosage; ranging from $30/month to $240/month. Whenever possible, Eastway partners with local pharmacies to secure the needed medications at a discounted rate.
Currently, there are 54 clients in the Eastway program with more on the waiting list. With both
medication pick-up and laboratory services available at Eastway, in addition to therapy, medical care, and case management, clients use Eastway as a one-stop location for their behavioral health
needs. Weigel explains that the one-stop is valuable for success of the program; each different stop
for the patient with schizophrenia (doctor’s offices, clinics, blood labs, pharmacies) makes acquiring
the needed medication more challenging.
Success is demonstrated regularly. Many clients, who previously would miss appointments or skip medication doses, have improved dramatically through participation in the program. They have reached higher functioning levels and are now engaging in vocational and educational programs. Clients like Charles, who was recently accepted to the program, demonstrate the possible successes.
Charles began seeing substantial recovery after his first week in the program. He says, “Everything is much clearer.”
NOTE: This is not an endorsement of the drug or the pharmaceutical company. Rather, a focus on the work of Eastway’s medical staff as they meet the needs of the many clients who otherwise would continue to struggle with severe mental illness.